Our tennis betting expert Derek Bilton is here with his latest tips that will hopefully help you to start the New Year with a bang.
The Qatar ExxonMobil Open is arguably the most popular event on the ATP calendar, having been selected by players as the ATP 250 Tournament of the Year on three occasions (2015, 2017 and 2019).
However, with a lot of the sport’s biggest names involved in the inaugural ATP Cup over in Australia there’s a rather understated feel to this year’s renewal.
To be fair Stan Wawrinka – who has won three Grand Slam titles – is involved and will start as top seed. The Swiss has enjoyed a fabulous career over the past 10 years and deserves top billing in the Middle East. Wawrinka has won 16 ATP singles titles during a magnificent career but is surely a player on the slide having not won a tournament since 2017.
It seems like Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal have set ludicrously abnormal expectations of what we should expect from players on the wrong side of 30. Wawrinka will be 35 at the end of March and his career is slowing down.
Might he have another title in him in 2020? Possibly. Does he rate as a bet here at around the 4/1 mark? Probably not. He is only 6-5 lifetime at the event and his best showing was back in 2008 when he lost in the final to Andy Murray.
A couple of big-serving veterans in Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Milos Raonic may interest some punters, with Tsonga in particular worth further inspection at 13/2.
He won in Doha in 2012 and showed last season he’s not past it by claiming wins in Metz and Montpellier. However, he does most of his best work these days indoors and has not won a hard court event outdoors since the Rogers Cup in 2014.
That said, Tsonga has reached the quarter-finals or better in each of his last three visits to Doha, compiling a 9-2 tournament record on a surface that he clearly relishes playing on.
Raonic is still only 29 but has struggled with injuries in recent years and his last ATP win was actually Brisbane in January 2016.
He’s in the same half of the draw as Wawrinka but it’s surprising to see some bookies have him as joint-favourite in the outright markets. For while he’s always dangerous with that booming serve – the Canadian once sent one down at 155.3 MPH – his game lacks the consistency to let him carry our cash this week.
Kyle Edmund’s first match of the 2020 season will be against sixth seed Filip Krajinovic in Doha. The 24-year-old Yorkshireman was ranked 14th in the world this time last year but enjoyed a torrid campaign and has slipped to 69 in the world at time of writing. He is young enough and talented enough to turn things around but Kyle simply can not afford another Annus horribilis.
Andrey Rublev reached the final here in 2018 (losing to Gael Monfils) and he could be worth siding with this week at 9/2.
The 22-year-old Russian has won five of seven matches in his previous two tournament appearances at the event. Rublev has fifth seed Laslo Djere for company in the bottom quarter of the draw but should those two eventually end up meeting you would fancy the Russian to progress.
Rublev won Moscow last season and is up to 23 in the world in terms of his ranking. Expect him to build on that this season as it’s worth remembering he missed six weeks of the 2019 campaign due to wrist injury. He has the type of game that makes him useful on all surfaces but if he’s up for this he can help up start the New Year with a bang.
Bilko’s Banker: Andrey Rublev to win the Qatar ExxonMobil Open at 9/2 (888 Sport)
Best of the Rest: Wilfried Tsonga to win the Qatar ExxonMobil Open at 13/2 (888 Sport)
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